Since the start of the year Piper Jaffray & Co. has hired 16 senior employees and opened four offices in its public finance and fixed-income units.

The new senior employees include seven public finance bankers, two fixed-income traders and seven fixed-income salespeople. All these employees are hires for new positions and not replacing others.

The firm has also hired some junior staff, said Todd Firebaugh, co-head of public finance and fixed income at Piper Jaffray.

The new senior bankers are Ed Wall in Atlanta, Jim Folsom in Birmingham, Ala., Marie Prezioso and Joe Nassif in Charleston, W.Va., and Ryan Stefan and Mike Prcela in Cleveland. Marc Silver is joining the firm as a senior banker in the senior living sector with principal coverage in Philadelphia and the Northeast.

These bankers “have great banking expertise with deep client relationships in areas where we were seeking to expand,” said Frank Fairman, head of public finance at Piper Jaffray. “Because of disruption in the marketplace, our firm is a particularly attractive employer of choice due to our stability and commitment to public finance.”

The end of Build America Bonds at the end of 2010 and state government curbs on capital spending reduced bond issuance in early 2011, Firebaugh said in explaining Fairman’s reference to disruption.

The underwriting industry has also experienced consolidation recently, he said.

Public finance is a substantial part of Piper Jaffray’s business, Firebaugh noted. Potential employees realize the firm is committed to it, making recruiting easy, he said.

Piper was the 12th biggest underwriter of long-term bonds in 2010 in par value, the 11th biggest in 2011 and ninth biggest in the first quarter of 2012, according to Thomson Reuters.

Earlier this year Piper Jaffray opened an office in Baltimore. The office’s key initial personnel are Sean Horrigan, head of agency trading, and Marci Flynn and Deb Horrigan in fixed-income sales.

David Buss has joined the Minneapolis office as a senior corporate trader. Bret Tomford and Joan Roberts started at the Cleveland office in fixed-income sales.

Other fixed-income senior staff hired by the firm this year are Sam Alimam in San Francisco, Tim Rowley in Charlotte and Greg Sammons in Newport, Ore.

“We are committed to building a leading fixed-income franchise at Piper Jaffray,” said Brad Winges, head of fixed-income services.

“We see additional growth opportunities and are making strategic investments to strengthen our platform and deliver the best capabilities to our clients.”

Piper Jaffray, based in Minneapolis, has generally done most of its business west of the Mississippi, according to the firm.

However, this year it opened up offices in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charleston, W.Va., and Cleveland.

There were additional openings in 2010 and 2011: other than an office in San Antonio, the new offices in Albany, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Memphis, Nashville and Philadelphia are all east of the Mississippi.

Piper Jaffray has 33 fixed-income offices across the nation. Some of the offices just have public finance services and others just have fixed-income services but many have both.

Opening local offices helps to increase sales, Firebaugh said. Many times clients want to buy local bonds.

If one has a local office the salespeople are more likely to be familiar with these bonds, he said.

It makes sense to expand the public finance and fixed-income sides simultaneously, according to Firebaugh.

For some issuers it is important that firms handle both competitive and negotiated underwriting. Since the fixed-income side handles competitive offerings, expanding it helps the public finance side gain negotiated offerings.

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